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Gilberto Guevara Comes to Goddard for the Love of Learning
August 10, 2011
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Intern Gilberto Guevara loves learning among one of the highest concentrations of PhDs in the world.

Name: Gilberto Guevara
Age: 55
Hometown: Cali, Colombia
College: Universidad de Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus
Major: Finance
Position: Summer Intern
Code: Financial Systems Office

Who is the most interesting, inspiring, or amazing person you have met or worked with at Goddard?

Valorie Burr, Associate Director for Acquisitions. Valorie has one of the most interesting jobs within the Agency for a business major. Her budget for purchases and contracts is over three billion dollars, yet she keeps a cool head and is one of the most ardent champions for innovation I have ever met.

How will this opportunity help you reach your future goals?

I enjoy helping others, one of my personal goals, and growing and learning myself from this experience.

What event, activity, or project are you most excited about at Goddard?

Obviously, the internship programs! This experience can be life changing as it exposes future professionals to their areas of interest and research.

What makes Goddard a great place to work?

The amount of science in such a small place and the emphasis on creativity and invention. Having one of the highest concentrations of PhDs per square mile in the world provides some of the best access to firsthand knowledge and source information to be found anywhere. History is being made here every day. Think about it! The only NASA Nobel Laureate is at our center and you can engage him for lunch. Wow!
Gilberto Guevara leading a session of the Investment Club. Gilberto Guevara leads a session of the Investment Club at Goddard. Credit: G. Guevara

What lessons or words of wisdom would you pass along to somebody just starting their internship at Goddard?

I would remind them that their minds are like a parachute: “They have to be open to work.” I would also recommend that they spend time discovering Goddard before getting distracted with outside entertainment venues. I would say, “Explore, trek through the different codes, poke around, look, ask questions and meet people.”

Gilberto GuevaraPhoto of Gilberto Guevara. Credit: G. Guevara

How do you feel a non-science internship fits into NASA?

Very well. Without the business expertise on Center, very little would get done. Project management, procurement, accounting, marketing, human resources, finance, statistics, and operations management are all business disciplines that make it possible for the day-to-day operations to go on and for the great discoveries to take place.

If somebody asked you, ‘What is Goddard?’ what would you tell them?

I would say that Goddard is one of the coolest places to work and one of the most innovative NASA Centers. If UFOs or aliens were to be found, Goddard technology would be first to report it!.

Describe the atmosphere of your workplace at NASA Goddard?

Relaxed, cool, and very open for learning and experimenting.

After working at Goddard, have you discovered that some of your perceptions were wrong or untrue?

Yes. NASA is not only about human manned exploration. Goddard is developing and delivering considerable science about our Earth.

What are your hobbies outside of the workplace?

Reading, going to the movies, cooking, and socializing.

Is there something surprising about you?

My strong desire to continue to learn when people my age are looking for a quiet and comfortable retirement. I enjoy seeing others grow and develop more fully.

Do you have a favorite book, magazine, movie, or TV show?

I enjoy watching the BBC, especially their news. My favorite books are the collection of Carlos Castaneda’s books about the Yaqui Indians.

What mistakes have you made? What have you learned from them?

I have made many mistakes in the course of my life in every area including personal, professional, emotional, and academic. But I learned from my mistakes. I learned not to fear making mistakes but to be alert enough to recognize when I have made them and make corrections.

Who are three famous people you admire and why?

President John F. Kennedy for his great contributions to mankind. He was the only Catholic president the country has ever had. He made possible the NASA spaceflight that took the first man to the moon and supported manned lower orbit flight. His greatest contribution, to me personally, is his famous quote: “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”

Martin Luther King for his great efforts to bring freedom and equality to blacks and other minorities in this country.

Bill Clinton for epitomizing the consummate politician.

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Grace S. Montalvo De León
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.